If you were to search for your holiday for 2018, search engines are very likely to throw up images of beautifully clean, white sandy beaches with an ice blue ocean lapping the shores. Zoomed in photographs of bold coloured cocktails and close-up shots of snorkelling and brightly coloured fish pull you into a holiday of lounging around and relaxing. For some people, this is the image of the perfect break. For others, a holiday which is rougher around the edges is the draw. We only get two to three weeks of holiday time every year from work, and that means we have to spend it as wisely as possible so that we get the most out of the break. Those who like to have a more hands-on holiday are usually drawn to strapping a twenty-pound rucksack on their backs and hiking ten miles or so in the forests and up the sides of mountains. When you only get a few weeks off work a year, you want to make the most of that and the idea of getting truly one on one with nature and going camping may not initially appeal; but hear me out.
We live in a modern world, one which is full of technology. If we aren’t plugged into our phones or tablets, we immediately feel like we are missing something. We open and close our technology, as if in the last thirty seconds something will be different. We base everything about our journeys around whether we can connect to the local Wifi and connect with people around the world. The only problem with all of this connecting, is that the more we connect online, the more we disconnect from ourselves. Camping and hiking and getting knee deep in mud is hard work, and that’s why it doesn’t appeal. We want life to be easy, relaxed. We create La-Z-Boy chairs and Segways. We create fast food restaurants and cake cafes that deliver to our homes. And then we have the nerve to wonder why we are gaining weight!
Don’t get me wrong, technology has a place in the great outdoors. Without revelations like wind turbines we wouldn’t be able to harness the wind for energy. Without solar panels, we wouldn’t be able to harness the power of the sun to do our washing. And when it comes to camping, the geniuses of the survival world have created the free Everstryke Pro, which has five times the amount of strikes than a typical lighter. Technology has a place, but when people choose to camp or hike it’s to disconnect from all their connections and get face to face with the elements and allow that natural adrenaline to pump. Having adrenaline pumping because of the burn in the thighs from that climb is far better than the adrenaline rush of ordering from Amazon Prime.
Walking has long been cited as a cure for most ailments and health issues. Overweight? Stop taking the elevator and go for a walk. Depressed? Burn some energy on a long walk. Overwhelmed? Take a long walk and try to think things through. You see, walking gives our bodies a chance to burn off excess adrenaline and energy that could otherwise manifest itself as stress and depression. It’s an outlet. When you step that walk up a level and go for a hike, you are giving yourself a personal challenge. Not only are you learning to be in the great outdoors no matter the weather, you are giving yourself a chance to navigate a route, set yourself up with a tent and supplies to survive overnight and you set a goal. For most people, hiking has a purpose and usually that’s to scale the side of a mountain or reach a destination in nature that holds a beauty that others have previously revered and written about. Hiking and camping often go hand in hand, and when people ask you why you have chosen camping over a beach holiday, you need to think about what camping is going to offer you.
Nothing is quite as refreshing as clean, fresh air. Living in a city, commuting on a packed train, working in a stuffy office: none of these things offer you the chance to just breathe. To take massive gasps of air that feel like pure oxygen is flooding through your brain. You remember that last beach holiday that you had where you sipped icy cold water on a boiling hot day? You remember how satisfying that felt? Well, picture being weighed down by hiking kit and a tent on the peak of a mountain. The whole world feels like it’s just below you, and you’re exhausted, but you’re taking that glass of ice water in the form of pure, fresh air. Satisfying doesn’t quite cover it, does it? When you choose to hike and camp, your eyes and mind are going to be taking in sights that you have possibly never seen before. Your brain will be drinking in the memories and your legs will be screaming at you that they’ve had enough. That need to push yourself further than you’ve ever been before is going to propel you forward and make you complete the hike, giving you the bug for challenge.
Camping can teach you life skills that schools and the present day have mostly forgotten. How to survive without the internet and smartphones should now be considered a life skill, considering almost every single person out there has access to these. Let’s not forget that the calories burned, and the little amount of food eaten will help your fitness, health and stamina when you camp, and you can chalk up your next weigh in losses with the adventure that you have just had on the side of a mountain. That beach holiday may be beautiful. It may be perfect in every way. However, you will get so much more out of a holiday that sees you surviving because of your own skills, and that’s a fact.